Reflections on Violence

Reflections on Violence

Reflections on Violence

Reflections on Violence

Synopsis

Georges Sorel's Reflections on Violence (1908) remains a controversial text to this day. It unashamedly advocates the use of violence as a means of putting an end to the corrupt politics of bourgeois democracy and of bringing down capitalism. It is both dangerous and fascinating, of enduring importance and interest to all those concerned about the nature of modern politics. This new student edition of Sorel's classic text is accompanied by notes, chronology, and bibliography, as well as a concise introduction to the context and content of this work.

Excerpt

Born in 1847, Georges Sorel came late to writing about politics. A provincial and bourgeois upbringing was completed by an education in Paris and then by over twenty years working as a civil engineer for the French State. Most of that time was spent in the southern town of Perpignan, far from the intellectual and political excitement of Paris. Yet it was here that Sorel began to write.

Sorel's first articles appeared in the mid–1880s. For the most part these were concerned with obscure scientific subjects, but many were devoted to studying the impact of the French Revolution upon the Pyrénées-Orientales region where he worked. Then, in 1899, came the publication of two books:Contribution à l'étude profane de la Bible and Le Procès de Socrate. Both dealt only indirectly with politics, but where they did so they conveyed a message of moral conservatism. The France of the Third Republic was thought to be in a state of moral decline. To reverse this process, Sorel recommended the values of hard work, the family and those of a rural society.

Sorel's retirement from government service in 1892 and move to the suburbs of Paris coincided with his first interest in Marxism. Upon the basis of a limited acquaintance with the texts of Marx, Sorel initially saw Marxism as a science. This, however, was quickly to change as he perceived the inadequacies of the economic determinism associated with Marxist orthodoxy. Accordingly, Sorel undertook a fundamental reinterpretation of Marxism, calling for a . . .

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